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Amid the ongoing recession in Greece, it has been suggested that the government consider granting compulsory licences of pharmaceutical patents to third parties in an effort to decrease public spending, which is particularly high in the health sector. Greek law provides for the grant of compulsory patent licences only for a reason that serves the greater good and the interests of the state.
A recent Council of State decision is one of the first to be handed down in a trademark matter dismissing an appeal on a question of law due to the lack of fulfilment of two mandatory conditions. This decision raises concerns for trademark owners and applicants. Failure to obtain a favourable decision in the first or second instance limits the chances of success in appealing a negative decision on questions of law.
Law 4072/2012 was recently enacted, of which Articles 121 to 196 constitute the new Trademark Law. The law has been only partially enacted and will become fully effective in October 2012; among other things, the provisions concerning the new filing procedures will be enforced on this date. As the law covers multiple topics, the provisions on trademarks are expected to be codified in a self-inclusive text in the near future.
A referral to the European Court of Justice may help to clarify whether the ratification of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights had the effect of automatically extending patent protection to pharmaceutical compounds, even if the application was filed for a production method at a time when Greece excluded such compounds from protection.
An applicant sought to extend to Greece an international trademark for a set of four digits in a straight horizontal line that it used as a secondary distinctive mark. The Trademarks Commission dismissed the application because of an alleged lack of distinctiveness. This judgment illustrates the reluctance of the Greek courts to acknowledge the inherent distinctive power of abstract signs that do not comprise further elements.
A dispute arose between two major razor-blade manufacturers regarding a BIC advertising campaign which extensively used the Greek flag and inferred that BIC was a Greek company. Gillette took legal action against BIC based on unfair competition clauses, arguing that the campaign was misleading. However, the Athens Court of First Instance concluded that the advertising campaign was legitimate.